I’ve heard that we leaders/entrepreneurs spend about 75% of our time on items below our pay grade. Stunning! We must stop getting sidetracked by the shiny, the urgent (not necessarily the important), the problems that pop up daily demanding our time and attention.
A few years ago I chose “strategic not squirrel” as my theme. I had a habit of being easily attracted to new ideas, new technology, the shiny objects of any business owner! Some ideas were really helpful, many took me off of my core purpose.
Strategic not Squirrel
Good idea: For example, 3 years ago when the pundits first started talking about a (mere) downturn, I started looking for additional services we could offer our clients to ensure they made it through the downturn. EOS has been a huge success for my clients’ businesses – and Apex Catalyst Group!
Bad idea: I have bought some great technologies, but they weren’t great for me. I am way too much of a high level thinker to truly put time into learning tools. Tools like turning presentations into cartoons that would make my business look fun and hip. I tried to learn, but kept pushing it to the backburner because it really wasn’t in my wheelhouse … and I didn’t want to do it. They were fun, could be cool for my business, but they were NOT the best use of my time or money – below my pay grade.
Many entrepreneurs and leaders are so focused on the 136 fires (issues) that arise every day that they don’t take the time to pause, look up, and look out. What’s coming? How are we doing toward achieving our vision? How are our people? Are we working ON the business enough? We get so caught up in the five alarm fires that we begin to lose sight of our goals, our plans, the truly important.
Five Leadership Abilities
How can we prevent the unraveling of our best intentions? This month’s focus is on the third of EOS’s Five Leadership Abilities – Prediction. (See the bottom of the blog for links to the first two in the series.)
In EOS we don’t define this leadership ability as being able to predict the future. Instead, we use it in terms of seeing where we want to go and planning how to get there. As Don Tinney, Certified EOS Implementer, says, “Predicting is considering all the information we have in front of us, and deciding what we are going to do. The real skill has to do more with considering our current options and picking a good path that appears to take us where we want to go.” It’s about having the data about our business so we can make decisions for the next good path.
Seth Godin had a great blog about control a few years ago called the Illusion of Control and again more recently On Predicting the Future. To summarize, Godin said that we believe we can control the future and we try to sell ourselves and others into believing it, too. “You’re responsible for what you do, but you don’t have authority and control over the outcome.” We try to control the future and we can’t. But, we can influence it by our choices, our actions.
Three tools we use in EOS to help with this are:
- Rocks – they help you clarify your priorities for the next 90 days and execute on them. Think about a team constructing a road through the jungle. Someone has to climb a tree every now and then to tell them where to go! Otherwise, no telling where the road is going because all they can see is what’s right in front of them.
- Issues Solving Track – Leaders who are entangled in the day to day stuff can easily try to ignore the issues just trying to make it to next week with gum and a bandaid. As a result, the whole company is barely held together and will eventually implode. This tool helps you identify the issue, discuss what it really is, then solve it. We must master the ability to resolve issues for the long-term greater good, making them go away forever.
- Scorecard – A great explanation of the EOS Scorecard comes from Ed Callahan, Certified EOS Implementer. He says of Seth Godin’s concept of control, “influence, not control, of the future – is the basis of the EOS Scorecard tool. EOS teaches our clients that it’s just as important to measure those activities we do control as it is to measure how we did in the past. These activities, if chosen carefully, lead to desirable future results.” The Scorecard is a weekly view of the most important activities you do in your business to measure your progress. You’ll see 13 weeks at a time to ensure you easily recognize patterns and can more quickly course correct.
Progress not Perfection
These three tools enable you to take the time to pause, look up from your daily “have to’s”, and look out to build your problem solving muscle. This ability enables you to see what’s coming and make better decisions today in preparation for tomorrow. Which minimizes the “fires” or problems that naturally come our way because you’ve predicted what could come and set your people and your organization up for it.
It’s about progress, not perfection. The more you make solid decisions daily, weekly, monthly, the more likely you are to achieve your quarterly goals (Rocks), your annual goals, and your vision.